October 6, 2023

Industry Insider Column

Guest Author – David Roberts, Trading Director at Sanwa

Do Good CSR And ESG Levels Mean My Business Is Healthy?

Firstly, what do they stand for? CSR is no longer the Sugar Refining Company. These days it means Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG is what they call Environmental Social Governance. Sustainability doesn’t have an acronym. But you could call it “The Big S”. They mostly all cover the same information and issues; however, these days a company will usually refer to one or the other when it explains what used to be simply called – being a good corporate citizen. Though, if you ask the experts – and there are more of those popping up every day – you will hear that CSR, ESG and sustainability are different in how they are applied and what they cover. Also, that you will need the expert´s


help in navigating through the new systems. No surprises there.

If we consult the website TechTarget we are informed that: “Sustainability is the umbrella that both ESG and CSR fall under and contribute to. ESG and CSR are both ways that businesses can demonstrate their commitment to sustainable business practices. CSR can be seen as the idealistic, big-picture perspective on sustainability, and ESG as the practical, detail-oriented perspective.”

Who are these guys kidding?  What the hell does all that mean?

So often people talk about these issues in general and vague terms, and there doesn´t seem any way to prove that one approach is superior to any other. The whole thing is un-chartered territory because it was never previously relevant and no-one asked. Now, however, companies are having to examine their inner worth and beauty without the help of their accountant, who used to be the final judge of how well the company was doing.

What I am learning is that there are many different parts to being a good corporate citizen. These different parts are called different things by different people who also lump different parts into different sections. When you receive a questionnaire from a large corporate which has invested millions to make sure it weeds out any companies with impure practices, actions or even thoughts, you realise that they would like to know everything about you. You also discover there is a lot of overlap within the different sections. I have had colonoscopies which are less invasive and anxiety creating. 

In the old days, if an entity came to you asking these sorts of questions, you would say that it´s none of their business. You might possibly reveal that you pay your taxes and you pay your bills. But beyond that it was nobody´s business but yours. Such days are now gone. While small companies can manage to avoid this Spanish Inquisition, any larger company with ambitions to contract with major corporates is now forced to play this corporate game of saying and proving that it´s righteous.

But what´s the definition of righteous, anyhow? If you head to the International Standards Organisation (ISO) you will encounter ISO 26000, which is their stab at what is needed to be righteous: “It provides guidance to those who recognize that respect for society and environment is a critical success factor. As well as being the “right thing” to do, application of ISO 26000 is increasingly viewed as a way of assessing an organization’s commitment to sustainability and its overall performance.

For my money, striving to be a good corporate citizen remains the simple, consistent goal. Whether you give it that old-fashioned name or whether you call it Corporate Social Responsibility is a matter for you on your journey through this convoluted world of management-speak.

Got Something To Say?  If you would like to be the guest author of an Industry Insider column you are very welcome. The choice of topic is yours. You might like to have a rant against some overbearing bureaucracy, or maybe you think further regulation is needed in a particular sector? Perhaps you want to complain about some unfairness which exists in the industry. There is no cost involved in being the guest author. Simply contact the publisher, Mark Maccallum, via his email: [email protected]

Disclaimer. The Industry Insider column is an opinion piece where the views expressed belong solely and entirely to the indicated author, in this case: David Roberts, Trading Director at Sanwa. Australian Steel News accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the veracity of the author´s opinions nor for the accuracy of any information given by him.

If you would like to contact David Roberts, you can do so via his email: [email protected]